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World Happiness Day – it's official

By Russell Grenning - posted Tuesday, 20 March 2018

I can hardly wait for March 20 – it's a Tuesday if you are wondering. Usually Tuesdays are one of those not particularly interesting days but this Tuesday will be very special.

I'm not absolutely sure what I will be doing but I can rule out, with absolute certainty, things that I won't be doing.

For example, I will push firmly out of my mind any thoughts about Sigurd Walden, the Swedish actor, Hawa Yakubu, the Ghanaian politician and Teru Manzo, the Japanese sumo wrestler. No doubt they were probably jolly decent types in their own way but March 20 is the anniversary of their deaths. So sad but dust to dust and all of that.


In fact, I intend to be happy and probably happier than I will be on any other day of the year. And no, that is not because I will be celebrating the birthdays of Manny Alexander, the Dominican baseball player, Isolde Kostner, the Italian skier or even Ethan Lowe, the Australian rugby league player. No doubt these worthies have lots of friends and relations to help blow the candles out on their cakes without having me butting in.

March 20 is International Happiness Day. It's been officially created by the United Nations so we have an obligation to be happy, don't we? And if you visit their website and enter your personal details you will receive at no cost – yes, free which can only add to your happiness - a "Happiness Guidebook", a "Happiness Pack for Kids" and the very latest "World Happiness Report". Oh joyous joy unbounded.

Mind you, it will be a pretty crowded day event-wise since it is also, among other things, International Astrology Day, World Storytelling Day and World Sparrow Day. Perhaps you could combine the lot and get happy by predicting that somebody somewhere will tell a wonderful story about lovely little birds.

I've been reading a very impressive document called "World Happiness Report 2017" which is a snappy little tome of 188 closely typed pages and every time you turn a page your smile will broaden. You could be forgiven for being in hysterics by the time you finish it. It's just that, well, happy. And it is chock-a-block full of happy inspirational sayings which initially made me think it had been prepared by the Hallmark card folks until I looked more carefully and read that it was compiled by professors and scientists who generally aren't to be found at the centre of any riotous behaviour.

This laugh-a-minute report is produced by an outfit called Action for Happiness and what a fun crowd they are. Mind you, on page one is a photograph of six, no doubt senior, funsters standing in front of the UN symbol and, somewhat regrettably, looking as if they are standing in front of a firing squad. No happy Janet, definitely not happy. Then again, it is a very serious business bringing happiness to the world. You really can't put your shoulder to the wheel, your nose to the grindstone or pull up your socks on the happiness front if you are congenitally frivolous.

"Action for Happiness" is, the document tells us, "a non-profit movement of people from 160 countries supported by a partnership of like-minded organisations". Now that is just fabulous for them and, happily, Australia is a member of this joyous band but there are 193 members of the UN and I wonder – in fact, I should care deeply – about those poor lost and probably unhappy souls in the other thirty-three countries. Well, actually I don't care all that deeply and, to be frank, I won't care at all on March 20 because that wouldn't be a happy thought.


Incidentally, it seems that the Democratic People's Republic of Korea – that's north Korea – is among the thirty-three nations not included and I am rather taken aback by that. Why, their spontaneous fun-filled marches just radiate happiness and their roly-poly leader Kim Jong-un is always wreathed in smiles. He seems to be the very epitome of happiness, the perfect embodiment of joy.

Not surprisingly, Thanos – the World Association of Funeral Directors – is not in the "Action for Happiness" crowd. Mind you, the Australian Funeral Directors Association which is our constituent body is winding up its four day national conference in Hobart on March 20 which is very neat timing and I'm delighted, happy even, that they can end their jamboree happily. I suppose it is just too bad if you die during these four days and your grieving loved ones discover all the funeral homes are shut which, all things considered, will only add to their sum total of unhappiness. Did you know that a person dies in Australia every three minutes and seventeen seconds? Now wasn't that worth getting out of bed this morning to learn that?

The name Thanos incidentally is a derivation of thanatology which is the scientific study of death and dying. I bet they have some exciting inspirational after-dinner speakers although it would be a challenge to find appropriate jokes for those speeches I suppose.

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About the Author

Russell Grenning is a retired political adviser and journalist who began his career at the ABC in 1968 and subsequently worked for the then Brisbane afternoon daily, The Telegraph and later as a columnist for The Courier Mail and The Australian.

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